What Might Be Right For You May Not Be Right For Some
Capping off another action-packed weekend that started with the Avett Brothers in Troy, NY, and continued with 16-time Grammy winner Jimmy Sturr and the Jimmy Sturr Orchestra in Hunter, NY, Tinsel and Rot headed to the Land of the Misfit Boys, aka the Chiller Theatre convention in Parsippany, NJ, on Sunday to load up on potential Holiday Greeting photos and spend too much money on autographs of people I admired when I was 12. Mission accomplished on both fronts. Who says I can't set a goal and reach it?
I have experienced many exciting surprises in my years on this earth, but perhaps none greater than the one that awaited me when I turned on my computer Saturday night and checked the Chiller website to confirm directions. I saw a note on the main page saying that three guests had been added to the Guest List on Thursday. I had assumed that the Guest List was all firmed up, so I hadn't really checked in last week. I had my possibilities lined up, the money all spent in my head, and then that Saturday Web surf happened. In a flash, everything changed. The world was turned upside down. A miracle happened.
Ernest Thomas, Danielle Spencer, and Haywood Nelson were added to the Guest List. And if you don't know that that's Raj, Dee, and Dwayne from "What's Happening!!" please leave now.
Only a "Police Academy" reunion could have filled my heart with more joy.
As I approached the gang's table on Sunday, I got a quick reminder of why these celebrities are completely justified in charging $20 for their signatures. There has to be a high sum of money involved if you are expected to endure three days of interactions like the one involving the man who was buying an autograph from Danielle Spencer right before me:
"So, that will be $20."
"Sure, no problem." (Guy pulls out a $100 bill, Danielle takes it)
[To Ernest] "OK, you owe this guy $80."
"Whoa! Raj is in charge of the money. What are you guys doin'?"
[Awkward laughter from Danielle and Ernest]
"Ah, c'mon, it's like a plot from da show! 'I used the money to go buy weed because I thought it was a good investment.' Ha!"
And they had to laugh at stuff like that for three days. Hoo boy. I think I'd lose my patience two hours into the weekend.
I kept my interaction to a minimum, though later on I regretted not bringing up the brilliance of "I be Raj. Which Doobie you be?" to Ernest. But perhaps it's for the best that I didn't. Can't imagine that conversation would have brought me a lot of pride. Still smarting from embarrassing myself in front of Randy "Cousin Eddie" Quaid by telling him that my family and I quote Cousin Eddie lines all the time. He seemed underwhelmed. Luckily, I stopped myself before yelling "Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!"
Anyway, I am quite proud to own the autographs of the surviving cast of "What's Happening!!" (or at least the main ones...I'm not counting that annoying white kid from the waning years...I assume he's alive, but I'm sure I don't care. Stick it, Little Earl.). Plus, I got the photo with the crew. Unfortunately for you, that photo is embargoed until the holidays. Be nice to me and I'll put you on the Holiday Greeting list, though I offer no guarantees that the "What's Happening!!" crew will make the cut. Been a good few months for the celebrity photos.
Another photo in the same situation is one of the legendary Gary Coleman and me, who, as you can see above, clearly had the best price list of the day. As any "Surreal Life" watcher will know, Mr. Coleman doesn't care much for the "Whatchutalkinbout Willis" phrase. But apparently, money (specifically $60) talks. Or at least writes. I wonder if anyone took the plunge. And, no, wiseguy, I didn't. But I do now have a "Diff'rent Strokes" DVD signed by Todd Bridges, Charlotte Rae, and Gary Coleman. What have you done with your life?
Once I spent the bulk of my budgeted money on the stars of the Channel 5 5 p.m. Power Hour of the Late 1980s, I had to be a little more selective. You won't find a much bigger fan of the first season of "Who Wants To Be a Superhero?" than me, but I'll be damned if I'll pay $15 to take a picture with first-season winner Feedback. Even if some of the money goes to Make-A-Wish. In fact, I want a monetary breakdown in situations like that. No more "a portion goes to." I'm gonna have to see who gets what. Just the way it is. No more hiding behind charities, particularly if you're the star of a reality show that most people don't even know exists.
Feedback was in a room that was largely empty on Sunday, a few feet away from former Intercontinental champion Tito Santana and a little ways down from Ray Parker Jr., who had an iPod hooked up to a speaker and playing--guess what?--the "Ghostbusters" theme throughout the day. That room also featured former "Baywatch" cast members (Anjelica Bridges, Traci Bingham, and Brande Roderick) and female wrestlers (Dawn Marie, Gail Kim, and Christy Hemme), most of whom were surprisingly not busy most of the day. Apparently, the male attendees of Chiller are not as horny as I expected them to be.
Actually, most of the guests (except the perpetually sunglassed Val Kilmer) were not exactly besieged with fans on Sunday, generally the slowest of the three days, which is the exact reason why I was there. I guess there's something to be said for the general chaos of Saturday, but, well, I'm not saying it. Unfortunately, it's harder to take surreptitious photos of guests on Sunday, so those are in short supply this time around. You'll have to make do with these shots of Martin "John Kreese" Kove and Butch "Eddie Munster" Patrick, the latter of which was taken as I was waiting for the shuttle to take me back to the train station. I just wanted you to see his hair.
Still, even if I have fewer photos, I ultimately prefer the relative peace and quiet of Sunday, where Edie McClurg and Marcia Wallace were just sitting around talking. I eventually decided that it was worth getting a photo with each of them--Edie McClurg because of that killer scene in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" (and, of course, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") and Marcia Wallace because she was on "Match Game" a lot. It doesn't take much to get $20 out of my wallet. I think these are longshots for the Holiday Greeting, so I'll share them with you. You're welcome
All in all, another fine day in New Jersey.